FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2019
By 1984 he was back in Vancouver, determined to become a professional musician. In the years since, he’s been named as one of the finest songwriters in Canada and has built a national – and international – audience for his music, doing it old school through countless performances at intimate venues and on the concert stages of festivals and theatres across Canada, the US, the UK, and Europe, with appearances at major events like the Reading Festival and WOMAD, to name just a few.
In 1996 he co-founded Blackie and the Rodeo Kings with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson. Originally intended to be a one-off collaboration to record a tribute album of songs written by Canadian folk music legend Willie P. Bennett, the trio quickly recognized they had created something worthy of further exploration and both critics and audiences agreed. More than 22 years later, with nine albums and a JUNO award to their credit, the band has become one of the most respected names in North American roots-rock. Their musical collaborators are many, but to name a few – Emmy Lou Harris, Nick Lowe, City and Colour, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Sam Phillips, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill, Cassandra Wilson, Serena Ryder, Holy Cole, and Mary Margaret O’Hara.
In 1998, Stephen Fearing met Andy White backstage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and a fast friendship was formed. In addition to his own work, White is known for his collaborations with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, and Sinead O’Connor. As the duo Fearing & White they have released two critically-acclaimed albums and toured throughout Canada and the UK.
Fearing has released ten albums as a solo artist, featuring musical guests including: Bruce Cockburn, Margo Timmons, Rose Cousins, Richard Thompson, Shawn Colvin, and Sarah McLachlan. When not working behind the microphone, he spends time producing records including Suzie Vinnick’s JUNO Award-nominated album Happy Here. “I really enjoy collaborating with other artists. It’s a blast and, as a bonus, gives me a chance to learn and expand my skill set.”
“Fearing’s music crackles with ideas and collaborative energy…
masterful guitar work from acoustic rock rhythm to elegant finger style.”
Acoustic Guitar Magazine
He also shares his knowledge and experience with fellow musicians through songwriting workshops. “The classes dovetail nicely with performing,” Fearing said. “My students are from all walks of life and I enjoy helping to coax them out of their comfort zones to create songs they might not have otherwise found.”
Like the guests on his albums, the many awards and nominations that have come his way over the years speak to the respect he has earned among his peers, presenters, and critics. His abiding love for his craft and ability to delight audiences are further reflected in multiple JUNO and Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations and awards and an ever-expanding touring circuit throughout North America, the UK, and Europe. For his album Every Soul’s a Sailor he was awarded the 2017 Worldwide Album of the Year by Blues & Roots Radio and named 2017 Contemporary Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
“A master of the finely-turned phrase and the perfectly-pitched line.”
Through a life of many relocations and countless months on the road performing, Fearing has become a gifted storyteller and true musical nomad with the ability to enthrall audiences of all sizes and attitudes. “Getting on stage is the fun part, especially when the adrenaline kicks in,” he says, with a broad smile. “People want to escape and be taken on a journey. I build my shows so they do just that.”